Project planning is just one of the many hats you wear as a small business owner.
Whether you plan to launch a new product, revamp your website, or run a marketing campaign, project planning is integral to all these processes. But it can be overwhelming, especially when you have a small team and limited resources.
However, it doesn’t have to be stressful.
Want to know how to plan out projects for entrepreneurship and small businesses?
Project Planning Steps For SMEs
Starting a new project can be daunting, especially if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur without a strong background in project management. It can be increasingly challenging to navigate through comprehensive guides.
We know that new entrepreneurs and small businesses may not have the resources or time to invest in complex project-planning processes. This is why we’ve rounded up some crucial steps to ensure your project’s success.
We’ll help you determine your project’s objectives and scope and identify the resources you require to create a project plan that sees you through to the end.
Follow the eight steps to the T, and rest assured you’ll complete your project with minimal setbacks.
1. Determine Stakeholders Needs
Before you start a project, identify your stakeholders, what they require and expect from the project, and prioritize their needs depending on their relevance and urgency.
Your stakeholders may range from project team members, clients, project managers, your company, and the local community to global organizations. In short, anyone who has an interest in or gets affected by the project is a stakeholder.
Believe it or not, knowing your stakeholder’s needs can help you better align your project with their goals and ensure success.
2. Identify Project Scope And Objectives
Once you identify stakeholders and their needs and expectations, set your project’s scope and objectives.
Your objectives can be SMART goals you want to achieve, while the scope defines project boundaries.
If you plan to create a site for your online business, A SMART project goal could be ‘start a basic Shopify site in 3 months’. But, the scope could limit it to ‘create the homepage, about us, shop, and contact us pages’.
So, define your objectives and scope without losing sight of the bigger picture, Do this at the project’s outset so you can stay focused and avoid scope creep, which can be costly and time-consuming.
3. Define Project Deliverables
Your project deliverables are the tangible outputs that result from your project. They could be products, services, reports, or any other real result your project aims to achieve.
You can stay on track and monitor progress against your objectives if you identify clear project deliverables.
4. Create Project Timeline
Create a project schedule to help you track how long different phases will take and when you can provide clients with deliverables.
Your project schedule should outline the tasks required to create deliverables, the sequence in which they should be completed, their timeline, and the team members responsible for tasks.
It’s best to break down your project into smaller tasks to make it more manageable and less overwhelming. Once you identify how long every task takes, estimating a project’s timeline becomes easier.
5. Estimate Project Budget & Resources
You’ll have to estimate your project budget and costs based on information available about the project scope. This will help you distribute funds promptly and properly and determine pitfalls before beginning your project.
Besides knowing how much to spend, it’s important to know what team members and resources you’ll require and whether they are accessible when as and when needed.
For example, you have a client who wants a new SEO-optimized website; however, you don’t have enough workforce to undertake SEO for a massive site and get it done on time. So, you’ll have to identify logistics like:
- What’s the availability of a developer?
- Will you have to hire freelancers for this project?
- Do you have the required budget to recruit freelancer web developers?
6. Assign Roles & Responsibilities
Assigning roles and responsibilities is essential to ensure that everyone involved in your project knows what they need to do and when.
There are various reasons why many projects fail. For instance, 38% of businesses say projects fail because team members don’t know their roles. Moreover, 37% of projects fail because leadership doesn’t define project goals and objectives.
So, make sure to specify clearly:
- Who will look after each project
- Who will manage tasks and deliverables
- Who will collaborate with clients during the entire project
For instance, when you run marketing campaigns for clients, you expect clients to provide social media profile credentials, approve social media images and copy, and offer specific and actionable feedback throughout the project.
You must communicate these expectations to clients and educate them to give useful feedback.
By assigning roles and responsibilities, you can avoid confusion and ensure everyone is working towards the same goals.
7. Assess Risks
Risks can be anything that can derail the project or cause delays. You must identify these risks upfront to take specific measures to mitigate them.
All projects carry risks. Here are a few risks you may face:
- Scope creep
- Project delays
- Overstretched resources
- Equipment or technology issues
- Team members leaving
You can use strategic planning software such as SWOT to determine these risks. Afterward, prioritize risks based on their likelihood of occurrence and the potential effect on a project.
Then, create a comprehensive plan to mitigate risks. This will help you avoid surprises and stay on track.
8. Develop A Communication Plan
Setting communication modes and expectations for your project is paramount. This ensures your team members have the data they require to stay on track, maintain stakeholders’ confidence, and enable you to track project progress.
Your plan should outline how you’ll communicate with your stakeholders and team members, what information you’ll share, preferred communication modes, project checkpoints requiring client approvals, and how often you’ll provide updates.
For example, you may have weekly Zoom meetings with team members to evaluate their progress on assigned tasks. Creating a communication plan ensures that everyone is informed and that your project runs smoothly.
Project planning can be challenging. It involves time management, team management, resource management, and more.
In addition, you may find yourself busy overseeing various projects simultaneously, making it increasingly tough to manage tasks and meet project deadlines and budgets.
Follow these eight tips to simplify project planning for your small business and entrepreneurship. These will help you plan and perform a successful project that meets stakeholder needs and your set goals.